NEW YORK (Jun. 16)
Premier Yitzhak Rabin and Israeli Tourism Minister Moshe Kolurged American Jews yesterday to come and visit Israel and help to strengthen Israel’s economy and the unity of the Jewish people.
Addressing some 200 Jewish leaders and representatives of the travel industry from throughout the United States and Canada at the North American Conference on Tourism at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel here, Kol expressed deep concern over the steady decline in American tourism to Israel since 1973. “Where are you Jews of America?” Kol asked, noting that in the last two years there has been a decline of 29 percent in the number of American Jewish tourists to Israel. “The situation is unbearable,” Kol said, pointing out that there has not been a decline in tourism to Israel from other parts of the world.
“We are concerned and we think that the situation must change drastically,” Kol stated. He observed that since the establishment of Israel only 10-12 percent of American Jewry has visited Israel. Kol added that the sharpest decline was in American Jewish youth tourism to Israel which is 50 percent less this year than in 1974.
In order to encourages American Jews to visit Israel, Kol suggested that a “liaison officer” with the Israel Ministry of Tourism will be appointed in every congregation and synagogue and in every Jewish organization in North America to work toward increasing American tourism to Israel. The conference adopted Kol’s suggestion as a resolution at the end of the meeting.
Rabin, in what was his last public appearance before flying back to Israel, stressed the importance of tourism to Israel’s economy but observed that for the Israelis tourism means “that we are not alone. It gives us the feeling that we are not isolated,” Rabin also said that tourism is important because tourists can come to Israel and see everything for themselves and then can spread the truth about the country. “This is the time for Jews to come to Israel and show their identity and confidence in the future of the Jewish State,” Rabin said. He also called upon Christians to visit Israel.